Fortnite: Everything You Need To Know About The Online Game
The craze for Fortnite, especially its multiplayer standalone mode Fortnite Battle Royale, has exploded recently especially amongst children. So, what do you need to know about the video-game of the moment? Peter Yates answers the important questions.
Fortnite, which is published by Epic games, is a game where players work collaboratively to survive in an open-world environment, involving combat against other characters controlled by the game or other people. Its gameplay involves cartoonish violence and characters that might be disturbing to younger players.
The single-player or co-operative mode (played with friends) involves fighting off zombie-like creatures. Fortnite’s most popular mode is its standalone free-to-play multiplayer platform, Fortnite Battle Royale. This sees up to 100 players enter an online game, competing individually or as part of squads of up to four, to be the last player standing within a constantly decreasing battle arena.
Fortnite requires players to create an account in order to play. Children will be required to give an email address, which they will subsequently have to verify, and a username.
There are several reasons why Fortnite, and particularly Fortnite Battle Royale, have become 2018’s big gaming craze.
Fortnite is rated 12+ by PEGI, Pan European Game Information for its frequent scenes of mild violence, meaning it is deemed unsuitable for children under the age of 12. This rating is simply advisory for parents. As with all games of this type, children younger than 12 are engaging with the game. Therefore, it is important that parents are aware of all the safety concerns around Fortnite and can facilitate safer gameplay for their children.
Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode is a multiplayer game where, either individually or in squads, players from around the globe pit themselves against each other in last-man-standing-type games involving up to 100 players. It is from this mode that the real safety concerns around Fortnite stem, and especially its unmoderated chat functionality – as players are open to communications, either by voice or on-screen, from anyone they are playing with. As with other games with chat functions, children may be at risk of exposure to inappropriate language, extremism or, in extreme cases, grooming.
Fortnite is free to play, but by buying a season battle pass, costing £7.99 and lasting a full Battle Royale season (around three months), you can receive bonus rewards, such as skins. The option of buying in-game add-ons can be done with V-Bucks, Fortnite’s in-game currency. You can purchase V-Bucks for cash or earn more V-Bucks via buying a season battle pass, which again costs money. All items that can be bought with V-Bucks are simply aesthetic and do not impact on gameplay.
As with all games that offer in-app purchases, it is important to make sure that children do not have access to their parents’ credit card details. It is also important to discuss with children how in-game purchases are designed to entice them in and spend money. However, if they are still adamant that they wish to purchase items on the game, allowing them to do so with their own pocket money can be a great way of giving a child a greater sense of independence.
The game’s creators Epic recently had to issue a statement advising how users can protect their accounts. This included third-party sites falsely advertising free V-Bucks in exchange for personal information. They also included a list of security tips and advice.
In the wake of the vast popularity of Fortnite – now a reported 45 million players – there have been several reports calling Fortnite addictive for children and claiming that the game induces competition-related rage.
The multiplayer in particular is popular, because of the relatively short, but high frequency of games. A player’s game can last anywhere from a few minutes to up to around 30 minutes. The option to join another game is very simple and quick to do, so tempts players with the option to quickly ‘have one more game’.
However, it is claimed that Fortnite can promote positive qualities and skills in children and young people; such as teamwork, dexterity and fast reactions.
It is important, if your child is playing, to speak to them about what is an appropriate amount of gameplay, and when. It is also important to understand the immersive element of the game and to respect that they may be emotionally invested in a game. Bear in mind that multiplayer games last only up to 30 minutes, so setting suitable amounts of play is easy without pulling the plug on their game.
Fortnite videos and their respective creators have seen an equally large boom in popularity as the game has grown. Ninja, the most popular Fortnite gamer, has 9.1 million subscribers on his YouTube channel and organised a stream on the streaming service Twitch with the rapper Drake, which brought in 635,000 live viewers (a world record for viewers to a stream).
The same concerns are present for Fortnite videos as they are for any video on YouTube: essentially, the use of profane language and the discussion of topics which may be age inappropriate for your child.
To avoid this you can turn on YouTube’s restricted mode to block inappropriate content. Alternatively, you can discuss with your child what they are watching and then watch it with them so that you can decide for yourself as to whether it is appropriate for your child or not.
Digital Safety Workshop for Parents of Carers
Thank you to everyone who attended our first Digital Safety Workshop, delivered by Leicestershire Polices' PC Wandless and Mrs Gohil.
It was lovely to see so many parents or carers intrigued to be educated about the positives and negatives to using the Internet. For some parents or carers, it was a real eye opener as they weren't aware of how openly accessible the Internet is, from Social Media to simply searching a name.
We hope you enjoyed the event, refreshments and our company, we look forward to seeing you at the next Digital Safety Workshop, so keep your eyes peeled.
Disturbing YouTube videos: factsheet for parents
Seemingly innocent videos, featuring children's favourites Peppa Pig and Frozen's Elsa, show disturbing and violent scenes which are inappropriate and frightening for young children.
See the factsheet below to help protect children against online videos that are slipping through the net:
Parents Guide to Social Media
Social Networking Sites
As part of our commitment to Safeguarding, we work closly with Leicestershire Police to keep up to date with new initiatives and training. We want to support parents in keeping their children safe online and work with CEOP and Think you know. Link on the link to find out more!
Links to other areas of Safeguarding concerns can be found here
It is often difficult to stop children joining and using social networking sites and often they will say to parents ‘my friends are on it’.
Frighteningly more than half of children use social media before the age of 10!
Make sure you are aware of what they are using and keep them safe - Commuication is KEY!
Do you recognise these common APP Icons? Click on them to find out more!
The school has a TWITTER account if you would like to see one in action
Here are some tips and useful links to help you to keep your children safe online:
Make sure your child understands they should keep new online friends strictly online. If someone asks to meet them in the real world they must tell you about it. If someone they don't know asks to be their online friend they must ask you first.
Know how to use the CEOP Button and how to report to the CEOP Centre if you are concerned about someone’s online behaviour towards your child. Parents and children can both report at www.ceop.gov.uk or www.thinkuknow.co.uk
On-line bullying or cyberbullying is an issue your children may face on social media, email or instant or on-line chat sites. Because these sites or apps are all about sharing personal information, and its easy for the information to be spread and easy for young people to become a victim or even a perpetrator without realising.
Cyberbullying is defined as the use of the Internet or other technologies to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person.
Types of cyberbullying
Flaming: On-line fights sent via email or instant message with angry or vulgar language
Harassment: Repeatedly sending nasty, mean, insulting messages
Denigration: ‘Dissing’ someone on-line by sending or posting gossip or rumours about a person to damage his or her reputation or friendships
Impersonation: Pretending to be someone else and sending or posting material to damage their reputation
Pranking: Tricking someone into revealing secrets or embarrassing information and then sharing it on-line
Signs that indicate your child might be a cyberbully:
Switching screens or closing programs when you walk by
Using the computer late at night
Getting upset if he/she cannot use the computer
Using more than one on-line accounts or an account that belongs to someone else
Signs that indicate your child might be a victim of cyberbullying:
Being uncomfortable when receiving an email, instant message, or text message
Feeling upset after using the computer
Refusing to leave the house or go to school
Withdrawing from friends and family
Listed below are more sources of help for parents:
Childnet International – Safety online information for Parents
Thinkuknow – The Parents’ and Carers’ Guide to Internet Safety
CEOP – CEOP Command (formerly the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre)
UK Safer Internet centre – Helping children and young people to stay safe on the internet
Internetmatters.org – helping parents keep their children safe on-line
Police DSC -- The Police helping the community become safer online